Check on Your Strong Friends: One Year After the Death of Cheslie Kryst and Mental Health Demand

“May This Day Bring You Rest and Peace” were the last post and caption from Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst before she tragically died one year ago today from an apparent suicide.

The news of her tragic death brought shock waves around the world. From the outside, it appears that she had it all. She was a gorgeous young woman living out her dream. She received her JD and MBA from Wake Forest University. The Charlotte, NC native competed in the 2019 Miss USA after winning Miss North Carolina in 2017. The Attorney went on to win Miss USA in 2019, which opened many doors for the Attorney. She had a successful career as an attorney and was working her dream job as a correspondent for Extra, interviewing some Hollywood A-listers. She lived the life that many people dream of.  

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, Photo Credit: Vicki French Bennington

Her bubbly personality made her likable at the red-carpet premieres. Her Extra cohost, Nate Burleson, described her as a beaming light in every room at work, on or off the air, according to a New York Times article written by Dodai Stewart. The article continues with Burleson stating that he could never pinpoint any hints of depression, making the situation confusing and complicated. According to a report from Extra, Kryst’s friend and publicist, Latoya Evans of LEPR Agency, couldn’t recall any signs of concern that render help. 

Behind the gorgeous smile, bubbly, and friendly personality, Kryst was battling high-functioning depression. Kryst’s mother, April Simpkins, who appeared on the Red Table Talk on May 4, 2022, revealed that she hid her illness shortly before her demise. Simpkins notice preliminary signs of something wrong when the smiles seem forced. Kryst attempted suicide in her early 20s. After her first attempt, Simpkins and her daughter grew closer. She was on the right track, seeking help for her mental illness. However, Simpkins didn’t know the severity of her daughter’s depression. 

Simpkins shared her daughter’s last text message during the Red Table Talk Interview:

“First, I’m sorry, by the time you get this, I won’t be alive anymore. And it makes me even more sad to write this because I know it will hurt you the most. I love you mom, and you are my best friend, and the person I’ve lived for years. I wish I could stay with you, but I cannot bear the crushing weight of persistent sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness any longer. I’ve never told you these feelings, because I never wanted you to worry, and because I hoped they would eventually change, but I know they never well. They follow me through every accomplishment, success, family gathering, friendly dinner. I cry almost every day now, like I’m in mourning. I wish for death for years, And I know you would want to know and want to help, but I haven’t wanted to share this weight with anyone. Regardless of that, thank you sincerely for being there for me in some of my loneliness moments without me even telling you I needed you. You have kept me alive and ready to face another day, because you answer every phone call, and you are there for me at the drop of a hat. You listen to me and care when I tell you what goes on in my life and you’ve always made me feel like you loved me. I love you more than any person I’ve ever known. You’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve done everything right.” 

Cheslie Kryst final Instagram post, Credit: Instagram, Username: CheslieKryst

An hour went by after Simpkins received her daughter’s text message. By then, it was too late. Kryst jumped from the 29th floor of her high-rise apartment in Mid-town Manhattan. She was pronounced dead on the scene. Kryst posted her last Instagram post with the caption, “May This Day Bring You Rest and Peace,”  before she committed suicide.

In the wake of her shocking death, there was a trend on social media to “Check on Your Strong Friends” because you never know what someone is going through. How can you tell if a cheerful person is battling suicide?

Kryst’s unfortunate death served as a reminder that mental illness has no face. I interviewed Social Work Professor and Counselor Richard Watson from Bladen Community College. He shared with the Exclusive Press that some in higher status, especially celebrities, have a lot of pressure on them as a celebrity in the public eye. They have to maintain a specific image for the public but struggle behind closed doors.

It is in our nature as a society to be self-absorbed with ourselves and daily life so that we do not notice signs and symptoms that others appear to be exhibiting. Those who are struggling with suicide tend to want to be by themselves because they plan to commit the act on their own.

The National Institute of Mental Health lists the warning signs that someone may be suicidal.

See link for Warning Signs of Suicide: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/warning-signs-of-suicide

Although Kryst is no longer here, we can take the initiative to help someone in a dark space. Never assume that someone is okay. Always check on your strong friends.


If you or someone you know is battling suicidal thoughts, call or text the Suicide and Life Crisis line at 988 and the Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for 24/7 support. Your information is confidential.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center also provides additional suicide prevention resources. Visit their website at: https://www.sprc.org/

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